Italy/Nagpur: The death toll in the Italian earthquake has risen to at least 247 as thousands of rescuers continue efforts to find survivors. Dozens are believed trapped in ruined Amatrice, Accumoli and Pescara del Tronto, in mountainous central Italy. These villages nestling amid scenic mountains are generally scantly populated but during summers the numbers swell up due to visitors and tourists. That is why it is difficult to estimate how many may still be trapped in the debris.
The search went on through the night, and there was a strong aftershock which rocked already damaged buildings.
More than 4,300 rescuers are using heavy lifting equipment and in some cases their bare hands too.
Many of the victims were children, the health minister said, and there were warnings the toll could rise further.
The 6.2-magnitude quake hit at 03:36 (01:36 GMT) on Wednesday 100km (65 miles) north-east of Rome.
There were several hundred tremors after the quake, some of which were felt in Rome.
The latest death toll was given on Thursday morning – 190 deaths in Rieti province and 57 in neighbouring Ascoli Piceno province.
Survivors of the powerful earthquake have described the horror of the moment it struck, wiping out towns and leaving dozens of people dead.
One witness described “screaming women looking for their children” while another said it felt like “being on a ship passing through a storm”.
Many of those killed were in Accumoli, close to the epicentre, and in Amatrice, which was largely reduced to rubble by the magnitude 6.2 earthquake which struck the centre of the country.
One survivor called Gianni reported this experience-
“I am from Leonessa, which is about 12km [7.5 miles] from one of the worst affected areas, Accumoli. This morning, I was awoken by the earthquake, which was very strong. I got in my car and drove to Accumoli to see if I could help, as I knew it would be very bad. I arrived in Accumoli, and it was a very shocking scene.
All the houses had collapsed.
I saw dead bodies lying in the street, and there were injured people walking around with blood on their legs and the rest of their bodies. There were screaming women looking for their husbands and children. There were neighbours coming down on to the street trying to help.
Rescue teams arrived very quickly by helicopter and told me and others trying to help to stand back.
They told us to come back with blankets and supplies, which I am doing.”
Many of the survivors are not only helping actively in rescue efforts but donating blood also if needed.